Katy Kinard – I Remember What Really Happened

Veteran teller Katy Kinard tells us of remembering what really happened during those times when everyone was praising her–things involving fires and strip poker. 

“(Gasp) I can’t believe this kitchen!  You girls are the BEST kids!  Sara, you need to invite Katy to spend the night more often!”

I stood with my middle-school-best-friend in a room filled with the smell of strong Pine sol and success – and a big smile on my face.  Sara’s mom went on and on about how shiny the counters looked, how clean the floors – all the dishes washed and put away – and we “even cleaned the oven??” What kind of angels were we??  She had given us permission to cook ourselves breakfast while she went off to work that morning… but for us to go above and beyond cleaning up after ourselves… I mean, we were celestial.

But I remember… what really happened that day.

We were watching old re-runs of Saved By the Bell, and they must have been amazingly distracting episodes.  I also remember her dog playing with us and Sara explaining in great detail how the poor little pugs eyeballs had been operated on several times as they kept falling out of his eye sockets, and this was way more disturbingly enthralling… than the smoke billowing out of the kitchen.

Sara’s parents had a gas stove, and if you have one, you know the broiler has actual fire spread out above the food it’s broiling.  WE thought it’d be a great idea to empty an entire package of bacon into the broiler…apparently we were hungry… and we wanted it good and crispy.


It suddenly hit us that we had forgotten about the bacon altogether, and we ran into the kitchen to find visible flames peeking out of the sides of her oven along with the smoke – and a large pool of grease running out onto the kitchen floor.

We jumped around screaming in hysterics… That didn’t work, so we argued about who would pull out the broiler drawer and who would put out the fire, and we searched for a fire extinguisher.  It didn’t help when we found it, because we couldn’t figure out how to use it, so Sara’s idea was that I would open the oven and she would pour a giant pot of dirty dishwater onto the greasy fire.

I deliberated with her about this proposed plan.  I went into a story about how my mom said baking soda was a good idea to pour on a grease fire… and I ran around throwing every cabinet open, muttering like a mad man, “Baking soda baking soda baking soda!  Where’s your baking soda!  Why do you people have no baking soda??”

Sara, the cooler one of the two of us, thought this was the dumbest thing she ever heard.  “Forget about F-in baking soda – We have to put out this fire!”  She opened the drawer and dumped the water all over the bacon, causing the flames to retaliate in anger and shoot up toward the ceiling, spreading out across the upper cabinets, while grease and water and burning bacon slices flew all over the kitchen floor.

I was very much torn between caring about this problem – and saving my life… as I recalled the fact that this was a GAS stove and could probably blow up at any moment.  I think twice I ran outside into the winter air and the piled up snow mounds and debated whether I should save myself and run – or stay with my friend.

I stopped being cowardly and ran inside to further search for baking soda as Sara pulled out screws and pieces of the fire extinguisher and slammed it against the counter until it finally busted enough to produce blue foam.  At this moment, I found a full bag of flour in the cabinet and ran over as Sara put out the fire with the blue foam and I dumped the entire bag of flour on top.

After it had already been put out.

It was quite a lovely scene at that point.  Pools of grease, chunky flour-water-grease globs and charred bacon, along with blackened walls and cabinets.

I’m honestly surprised the black coating scrubbed completely off, and I can’t believe we got the whole kitchen clean… We opened every door and window and let in the 20-degree wind for 4 hours, but even so, I can’t believe it aired the house out enough to get rid of the smell.  Thank goodness her parents were smokers and thank goodness for the strength of Pine sol.

Fast forward a few years.  My parents are glowing.  It’s right after school and they have just received word that I was voted student of the year by all of the teachers in my grade.  I remember hugs and kisses…  I’m pretty sure my favorite hamburger helper was cooked that night, and homemade peach cobbler – because I deserved it.  I was an upstanding teenager and American citizen and I was in “Who’s Who Among American Students” – a book I think we had to pay for me to be in – (and I think all of you guys were in there too), but anyway! I remember… what really happened that day.

“Come on Katy, we’re not going to get caught.  Just meet us by the bike racks.  Heidi’s coming, and so is Emmy and Sara and your step brother and his friend.”  It was my time to prove myself, you see… All my friends were in the druggie crowd, and I was already ashamed that I didn’t have as many D’s or F’s as they had, or detentions – I had never even been to Juvenile Hall – and I could never seem to rise to their level of coolness – so this was my chance, you guys.

After homeroom was out, I nonchalantly slipped out of the side door around the back of the building, and at the opportune moment, each one of us ran toward the bike racks and then across the wide field toward the woods.

My heart was beating out of my chest, as I knew some kind of city-wide siren was going to go off and the dogs were going to sic us any moment.  We sprinted into the woods out of breath, until the shadows covered us completely, then we crouched down and peeked back at the tiny school between the branches.

I. could not.  believe it.  I was skipping school.  There was no turning back and I had been brave and valiant.

That feeling lasted very shortly, as my friends took out their bags of weed and passed it around for all to smoke.  Suddenly I was the good girl again, because up to this point, I had grown ok with smoking cigarettes but it would be several more months until I graduated within myself to the level of trying pot.

Let me explain that for me, smoking cigarettes was actually slowly blowing on the cigarette – and it would burn up the end and look like I was smoking – My friends didn’t know the difference – and they were impressed with my strength and resolve one day when I courageously quit my addiction. But back to the woods.

We walked along back roads and into deeper woods to reach the private property of Thunderbird Ranch, which included my house.  Ours was one of several cabins that used to be part of a camp, and one of those cabins was a chapel.  We ran inside, shut the door, and played strip poker.

…yeah.  I’m not sure why lightning didn’t crash down upon us… but I will say the worst that happened was Heidi stripping down to her bra and underwear, and I don’t remember having to remove anything exciting.

We left in time to get back to school for the last class of the day.  I’m not sure why we even returned, but I remember sitting calmly in my seat at the start of algebra when I heard the dreaded words over the intercom:  “Katy Kinard, please come to the office.”
I froze and sank in my seat, the thoughts turning over and over about the consequences that would soon follow.  My classmates stared at me and reminded me again what was just said over the intercom… so I got up and took the long walk of shame to the front office.

I sat and waited – the receptionist explaining that the principal himself wanted to talk to me in private.  I rehearsed what I might say and tried to think how brave I could be if he asked who else I was with… I would try to say as little as possible and hope for the best.

“Katy – please come in.”

I sulked in and sat down as he walked around behind his desk and pulled out a scary, official-looking paper of some sort.
“Congratulations, you have been chosen student of the year by the entire staff of teachers!  I wanted to tell you myself of this great honor…”

I remember… being way too lucky growing up.

Katy Kinard – Court Dates

For Tenx9’s theme “Dates,” Katy Kinard told of a dates should we never have expected her family to face: court dates. 

My parents had court dates.  MY parents.  My Leave-it-to-Beaver, church-going, conservative middle class parents had court dates… and were under investigation for child abuse.

Maybe my step-brother was wearing a whole different set of glasses than I was.

I saw sunshine and rainbows, and he was the shiny, fun unicorn that came into our lives when I was 6.  He quickly became my best friend…same age as me and made me laugh and discover new adventures my entire childhood.  He was always cooler than me, and I always wanted to be like him.
My sister and I never called my step-dad any other name than “Dad.”  That’s who he’s been to us.  My step-brother called my mother “Mom” and that was his only name for her.

And this is what I saw of our family life growing up:

I saw a dream home for kids… a cat and a dog, a backyard with a hot tub, tire swing, trampoline, volleyball net, rope swing, huge treehouse built by my step-dad, and places you could climb up to our flat roof and swing in tree branches while overlooking the neighborhood.  We had a boat in the driveway that took us waterskiing and fishing.  We’d play with nearby friends and explore the neighborhoods with a simple, “Gonna ride my bike!  Be back later!”  There was freedom, safety, the warmth of Texas weather, and comfort at home.

My mom would decorate for every holiday… different colors, different music, different treats baking in the oven.  We had dinner together at night, and it didn’t even include TV for the first several years.  My mom was a teacher, my dad a salesman for a lumber company.  Like other families, our mom was a taxi service for our soccer games, karate practices, bowling leagues, volleyball and basketball games, track and gymnastics events.

My dad built wooden race cars with Jason for “father/son” events and took him hunting and fishing.  They sat alongside us for science projects, helped us earn scout badges and encouraged us in talent shows.

Every summer, we’d take trips with my grandparents in their motorhome, traveling around the U.S…riding mules down the Grand Canyon, rafting the Colorado river, driving through the center of giant Sequoia trunks in California, boat rides to the base of Niagara Falls, dining across from Mt. Rushmore, week-long ski trips every Christmas, and Disneyworld visits…to name only a few.  But what really made life fun was the background music of humorous and anecdotal conversation: constant chatter and life teaching that was comforting to me.

Maybe none of this was comforting to my step-brother.

Maybe Jason didn’t fit in a Leave-it-to-Beaver upbringing.

Most of our immediate and extended family is of one mind when it comes to “how one should live,” and there are expectations…I will say that.

There were rules.  You got rewarded when you followed them, and grounded – sometimes spanked – when you didn’t.  Now I was a rule-follower, and I didn’t understand being rebellious as long as life around me was comfortable, meaningful, and entertaining.  Later, life became horrible and I became horrible with it.  But maybe that’s what Jason felt…sprouting up between an alcoholic, jealous biological mother who pulled him toward one definition of “truth and love” – and our family who taught another.

He ultimately chose one.

Jason lied about small things or big things…it didn’t matter.  It was a form of control he laughed about behind our parents’ back.  He would tell me things he wouldn’t tell other people, and I felt special that I was the one he would confide in.

Jason often did the exact opposite of what he was told.  If my parents reminded him to close the kitchen cabinets after putting dishes away, he would start leaving cabinets open on a regular basis.  This played out situation after situation.

He was caught stealing money.

He was constantly in trouble at school, and his teachers started getting so frustrated, the school mandated daily progress reports, signed by his teachers and my parents.

My mom would often help him with homework, only for him to throw it away or turn it in too late and get a failing grade.

He did turn in 3 different papers about how great drug dealers are and how he aspires to be a crack dealer someday and make lots of money.

Jason forged signatures, confiscated report cards and notices from teachers and ripped them up before my parents checked the mail.

He started skipping school and got into drugs.

He set fire to a girl’s hair in church.

One time, his fist was back and ready to hit my mom during one of their arguments when our dad ran in and intervened.

Months later, he put my mom in a headlock and laughed for several minutes as he held her in place and threatened her.

My parents tried many things…

In the early stages, they tried the old-fashioned task of sentence-writing.  When he did something good or followed directions well, he would earn extra play time for video games, TV, etc.  When he started deliberately disobeying, he would get NFD, or “not following directions” chores.  They tried grounding.  None of these methods worked, and they tried spanking.  My sister recalls that he would laugh during the spankings and would often hide a thin books in his jeans.

They tried counseling.  They talked about sending him to reform school but never did.

I felt caught between my brother – my constant friend – the one who showed me favor – the one who stood by me year after year – and the rest of my family, frustrated and exhausted because of him.

A month before everything hit the fan, we had walked home from school to an empty house when Jason suddenly pushed me down and pinned my arms and legs to the floor in the hallway and demanded that I do sexual things to him.

Who was this monster?  I struggled to get out from under his control and started yelling at him, as I was suddenly afraid of this person I had never been afraid of.  I was shocked and hurt.  He was laughing and apparently got a kick out of it.

He let this go on for several minutes and finally released me.  I ran to the back wall, and he ran after me and then pinned me to that wall.  I angrily reminded him that he once told me he would protect me at any cost if someone tried to hurt me.  To his credit, he thought about that and finally let up – and I slapped him and fled to my room, locked the door, and cried for an hour.

He ran away a month later.  He told me at school that he was leaving and wouldn’t ever be back.  He had tried this before, so I said, “Ok, I’ll see you tonight.”

That was 20 years ago.  I haven’t heard from him since.

I have to backtrack to Jason’s biological mother:  She was very jealous that Jason would my mother “Mom” and would leave threatening messages on our voicemail, would call and hang up dozens of times a day, once smashed clay pots against our house, and regularly used money to win my step-brother’s love.  If he wanted Air Jordans and my parents said no, she would buy them for him.  When he wanted a puppy, she presumptuously sent him home with one.  When my parents got him a bike that wasn’t nice enough, she told him to leave it unchained at school – to get it stolen so she could buy a fancier bike for him – and that’s what she did.

She’d let him drink with her.  She’d invite his friends over and they’d all drink and smoke pot together and have parties, and she was the cool parent.  He wanted to live with her, so he ran away and told people my parents abused him.

Court dates.  Investigations for child abuse (that were proved unwarranted).

Custody battles.  Family counseling.  That time in my life seemed to last forever.

The grief that came from his silence was deafening.

Trying to find him online over the years has proved difficult because of a famous soccer player with the same name – but finally, 4 years ago, I stumbled upon a myspace page.

I took a deep breath.

As a 30-year old woman, I would see how time had shaped him into a grown man of the same age… and I stifled a fresh sadness of having missed out on an older brother for so many years.

What I found in that profile was something I never even considered.

He was the same boy from middle school.

I scrolled through pornographic pictures of his girlfriend’s private parts, a picture of him peeing in the woods for the camera – highlight: the stream of pee, and photos of him drinking and blowing cigar smoke at the camera, eyes red and drooped and high.

He bragged on his own nickname “Jump Shot Jay” and how he was the best ever at basketball, the way you dare anyone to say otherwise.  He said dismissive things about religion/authority and told people where they could shove it… and everything was still about money, and name brands… and being cool…and proving himself.

I stared hard at that myspace page that was suddenly changing my life.

I recalled how close my (incredibly loving) sister and I have gotten through the years…as she was always edged out as the “too spiritual/not cool enough” third wheel growing up.  I remembered how I turned my whole life around after I hit a messy rock bottom.  I fully gave my life to Jesus – and everything I had ignored back then.  My parents told me a few years ago that if Jason had stayed, they would have divorced, as their marriage was hanging by a thread.  And I thought about how Jason’s influence on me would have continued to this day, because I know myself well.

I will always love my step-brother.

I hate that he felt like he didn’t belong…or that he didn’t want to.

I long for him to feel peace if he doesn’t – and for peace between us.

But the irony hit me in that moment: What if the worst thing that ever happened to me… was actually…the best.

Katy Kinard – Nashville Elderly Care

For the theme “Nashville,” Katy Kinard shares tales from her days caring for the elderly. 

Nashville… has brought me many Tenx9-type stories before Tenx9 existed.

It’s one thing I love about elderly care.  There have been lessons learned, tear-jerking experiences, and memories told to me – and retold.  And retold and retold and retold… lol, minds are not quite as sharp in this business… but some of MY favorite memories are the ones that brought spontaneous laughter at the time – and continue to make me laugh to this day.

The first home I was ever sent to was Ms. Addie P. Pepper – a feisty, full-of-life, slightly-irreverent woman who lived with her sister, Charlotte.  Charlotte was actually the one declining; she had Alzheimer’s and the sweetest spirit as she’d sit by her upstairs window bellowing the wrong words to old gospel hymns all day long.

Addie and I talked all the time and I loved her.  We’d discuss topics ranging from racial inequality to her former sex life, or to somewhat combine the two, she’d sit me down and make me watch “Waiting to Exhale” with her, which was… slightly awkward.
Their pastor would visit once a week, and I can’t forget one of the visits.  He opened the door and Addie turned on her “church voice” – which had a great variety of inflections, sounded somehow holier and contained large amounts of syrup.  “Praise the Lord, Reverend, so good to see you, come on in.”

“Thank you, Ms. Pepper.  I hear Charlotte up there singing the good songs, as usual.”

When they finished visiting, Addie showed him to the door, and no sooner than the bolt was locked – her hand still on the doorknob – she yelled, “SHUT UP, CHARLOTTE!  Katy, go get a popsicle out of the freezer and shove it in Charlotte’s mouth.  ….(mumble)…Tired of that incessant caterwauling…”

I thought of a fun gift for Addie one Christmas.  One of my friends was studying massage therapy and needed clients for practice.  I asked her if they were allowed to give massages to people over 80 years old and frail.  She said sure, so a couple of weeks later, Addie apparently had the best half hour of her life.

It started out quiet… little moans here and there.  But the noises increased and got higher-pitched and more exaggerated and more embarrassing for me sitting out in the waiting room.  I felt sorry for my masseuse friend and thought of ways I could mend our friendship over the next…year.

The appointment wrapped up, and Addie’s wiry body marched out of the waiting room and exclaimed, “Baby – that was BETTERTHANSEX!  Woooo!”

Addie used to call me her adopted granddaughter.

Charlotte actually outlived her – to my surprise – and I cried as if she was my own grandmother.

Mary is the cutest little southern lady I know – and the most passive aggressive.

But to focus on her cuteness… She likes to make jokes, like when I say, “I need to use the bathroom,” she’ll say, “Bring it back, now!”  😉

I’ve always thought that was funny, but what’s even better is when I say, “I’ll be right back – I’m going to the restroom” – she’ll say “Bring it back!” even though the joke doesn’t apply there.  😀

I told Mary I liked her shoes one day, and she said, “Oh, yeah, I got that down in the holler.”

Me:  “In the holler?  haha how cute, where’s the holler?”

Mary:  “You know, that mall they done had over there a while back.  Hickory Holler?…”

She likes the word “poke.”  She uses it like:

“My husband… He could grow anything he poked in the ground.  Anything he poked in the ground just growed up!!”

“Why don’t you poke that food in the microwave?  Just poke it in there, I can eat it for lunch.”

Elderly people crack me up when it comes to saving face.  You gotta do it – at all costs – especially when it comes to someone implying that your mind (or eyesight or hearing) is less than sharp.

Mary and I were watching The Price is Right, commenting on Drew Carey:

Mary:  “He’s got arthritis in his hands and in his arm – I can tell it hurts him real bad and I know how he feels!  My foot gets to hurting; you know, I can tell when it’s gonna rain!”

Me:  “Hmm… Why do you think he has arthritis?”

Mary:  “The way he’s holding his arm and his hand all crippled up like that, you can just tell he’s in pain.”

Me:  “…OHH… haha, well I think he’s actually just holding a little microphone – It kinda blends in with his black jacket, but see, he’s holding the mic down by his stomach because it’s such a tall skinny mic, he can’t hold it close to his face.”

Mary:  “Well… I’m not saying I’m a doctor or anything, I’m just saying those are tell-tale signs of arthritis.”

Me:  “But… you know what I mean, right?  That he’s holding a microphone and that’s why his arm and hands are curved?”

Mary:  “Well… neither one of us are doctors.  I’m not saying I know for SURE, I’m just saying.”

One of the funniest, most surprising cases of “saving face” happened with one the sweetest elderly women I’ve ever known – Edith.  She had declining dementia, and sometimes we had to guide her choices.

Her son and I were helping her with dinner when we realized she had picked up her crumpled up napkin instead of her roll and brought it to her mouth to eat.  We quickly took action:

“Oh no, Edith, that’s your napkin, did you mean to eat the roll instead?  See, that’s just your wadded up napkin.”

She looked at the wad, thought for a second, and said, “I know” and took a bite and started chewing.

The most memorable moments seemed to happen at mealtime.  She took a drink of tomato soup instead of her coffee (which was in the same kind of plastic mug), and declared, “That’s terrible coffee.”

It was scary one time – Edith was literally choking on a bite of grilled cheese sandwich for nearly 30 seconds, then coughing/slightly choking for a few minutes, eyes watering and face beet red… the nurse, the techs, all of us rushing around her…

Then she paused afterward, like nothing happened.

We’re all staring at her, wide-eyed.

“That tastes good,” she said, and took another bite.

Josh was not elderly.  He was only 33 years old and battled a disease that continually formed tumors in his brain.  Surgery started getting too risky, as he’d already lost his hearing from one of them, and because the new tumors would push against different places in his brain, it started permanently affecting mobility, eyesight, sense of touch… I truly thought of Josh as the modern day Job – if there ever has been one.

Josh had a quick wit, though, loved sarcasm, and was even a bit flirtatious; he usually spoke at a normal volume, despite his lack of hearing.

One day, Josh was taking a nap, and I was quietly reading a book in the chair beside the bed.  The house was empty and the only sound was a couple of chirping birds outside the window.

I had never heard Josh talk in his sleep before, and he never snored, so you can imagine how high I jumped in my chair when I heard:

“Ready!… Aim!… FIIIIRE!!”  (hand in the air to command troops)- right back to sleep.

In the words of a recent hymn, I can’t wait to “laugh on glory’s side” with these friends that have gone on before me – and all the new friends that Nashville will send my way.

Katy Kinard – The First Time

Our opening story of January 27th’s Tenx9 night of “First Time” experiences was told by the delightful Katy Kinard. Enjoy!


The First Time I Held A Handgun

I was 26 years old, and I hadn’t planned on needing to defend myself that day.  I had never planned on using a handgun in my life. My dad is hunter and had taught my sister, step-brother, and I how to shoot rifles – kind of.  I was never good at it, but I liked hanging out in the woods with my dad.

This particular day, however, both my parents were out of state, and I was manning their house in Colorado for a week. Let’s NOT say I had moved back home to live with my parents in my mid-20s – Let’s say I had been visiting them for an elongated summer while I worked hard on my music career…

That being said, I had on a super cute outfit for a concert that night, and I was practicing guitar in the backyard.  I like to practice outside at my parents’ house, because the weather is always perfect in the summertime, beside afternoon showers, and it’s always quiet and secluded, being private property.

As I was playing, I heard the phone ringing from inside the house.  I had to run around to the front door, and by the time I did that, shut the screen door behind me, put my guitar down and ran to the kitchen to pick up the phone, I had missed the call.  I knew it was my mom calling to tell me they’d made it ok.  I dialed the number back and waited for her to pick up, but suddenly I heard a very different noise coming from around the corner – from the front door.  It was as if someone thought they could walk right in but realized the screen door had locked, and the faint rattle of the door turned into subtle scratching noises like someone trying to pick a lock or see how sturdy the door wasn’t so they could continue.

I dropped the phone in panic and froze against the wall.  With my parents gone, none of my friends around…this being private property with only anti-social neighbors… there was no reason anyone should have been trying to get in the front door.

I figured they’d probably seen me outside and gathered that I was alone… The last thing I wanted was to be a victim of whatever they had planned, so I immediately ran to my parents’ bedroom where I had remembered my dad saying he kept a handgun. Thankfully it was in the same place he said it would be. I grabbed the gun, surprised out how cold, but especially how heavy it was for such a small gun. Naturally prepared, my dad had it preloaded.  I cocked the hammer back, and I probably looked like a scared Charlie’s Angel as I crept around the corner, holding the gun just like a movie.

I could still hear the noises, but they kept getting louder, like someone had taken out a knife and was now impatiently cutting through the screen webbing.

I thought back to horror movies I had seen.

My heart pounded as I turned the corner… To my utter surprise… but not at all to my relief…

It was a bear.  Literally clawing through our screen door.

Earlier that day, I had been indulging in my obsessive compulsive amusements, helping my parents out by processing the bad parts off their fruits and vegetables – putting the good parts in plastic bags and Tupperware, neatly in the refrigerator… and the stinky bad parts, in a nice salad bowl for bears, otherwise known as our trashcan.

No one really uses air conditioning in the mountains of Colorado – you just open all the windows and doors and keep the screen door shut to let in the breeze – but apparently that breeze goes both ways, and this particular guy liked what was being advertised from our home.

So the bear had clawed all the way through the screen door at this point, leaving a huge square hole, and his head and arms were through the door and in our house, as if he were going to somersault into our home at any moment.

I forgot all about how you’re supposed to make a lot of noise when you see a bear.  I didn’t want to aggravate him, so I stayed completely silent -just pointing the gun straight at him, walking toward him, questioning whether or not I could actually shoot a living thing if I had to.

He looked up, startled…wiggled his chubby self out of the middle of the door and surprisingly backed away.
I quickly ran forward, closed the main door and called my dad to freak out over the phone.

He calmed me down, said it was good I didn’t shoot the bear – as I would have gone to jail according to Colorado law.  He said to wait a few minutes…and then to go outside and put bleach around the doors and windows, because apparently bears hate this.

(Naturally, my first response was: “mm…you would like me to go outside right now—where a bear is  walking around—and mop the edges of our house and come back?”) He said the bear would have probably walked off into the woods by now and that it was important that I do this soon, so that he didn’t come right back. (Naturally my 2nd response was: “umm…he might come back really soon and you would like me to go outside right now and mop the edges of our house and come back?”)

He thought it’d be ok.  My dad loves me.

I mustered up the courage, grabbed one of those noisemaker hand clappers – (yes, it was nearby because my mom makes me take that with me every time I go hiking behind the property) – and I don’t care what Colorado law is, I took the gun – along with my bleach, and made my way around each window, working fast.

When I came around the back of the house to the front, I saw my new friend again—in our driveway— and I sprinted toward the door.  The little guy must have been pretty wussy, because he got frightened again too, and he shimmied up the glorified Charlie Brown pine tree by our driveway, got up to the top and sat there looking at me looking out at him.

Then the funniest thing happened.  He was too big for the tree, and just like a cartoon, as he held on for dear life, the tree bent over sideways and dropped him off in rejection.  He lumbered off to the woods. I put the 45 automatic back – hopefully for good – then I gathered my belongings, raced off to the show that evening, and that was one time where it was very appropriate to get up on stage and say, “Thank you, it is so good to be here tonight!”

Katy Kinard – The Greystone Corridor

At Tenx9’s third theme, “Something Unexpected,” Katy Kinard shares of an experience that defies all rational explanation. 

Several years ago, I experienced something unexpected that neither I – nor anyone else – has been able to explain.

My former roommate got married in 2005, and her rehearsal dinner was held at what used to be a top-of-the-line hotel in 1910: “The Greystone.” It’s been a landmark in the tiny town of Paris, TN, but now the hotel rooms are rented out as apartments. However, the lobby and decor of the place still looks like a ritzy 1910 establishment…large dusty chandeliers, elaborate framed mirrors, old-fashioned fancy couches, gold curtains, and the place still looks identically like a hotel, perhaps only a tiny shadow of what it once was. When we walked in, we stepped into the dark, empty lobby… no noise, no tenants out and about, only a dimly lit hallway lined with 8 old hotel rooms, and to the right, the path that led us to the dining hall.

A perfectly normal rehearsal dinner: great atmosphere, eating, dancing, and celebrating. After a while, I excused myself to look for a restroom.

I walked back toward the dark lobby… no restroom… kinda strange for a lobby, I though, but ok, maybe it’s more near the hotel rooms. As I walked down the short hall with only 8 rooms, I turned the corner and there was long corridor – at least 50 hotel rooms (25 or so on each side), with a huge, oval, maybe 10-foot mirror at the end of it (very elaborate frame, like the others). Walking toward this mirror got freakier and freakier, cause here I am walking toward myself down this long, dimly lit hallway, and it reminded me of “The Shining.” I half expected to see identical twins appear in front of the mirror, chanting. So I got a little creeped out and decided to stop and instead glance down a short hall that crossed this one… no luck, just a closed door about 3 yards away from me. The short hallway was completely dark, and I remember trying to find a light switch, but there wasn’t one. To the left were windows that revealed something like a dark kitchen with hanging pots and pans. Even if there were a restroom down whatever hallway was behind that door, I didn’t care to find out. Didn’t want to venture further into the maze, so I turned around and headed back.

I quickly found a restroom where the short hallway curved around and connected to the dining room.

“The powder room” was just as elaborate as the rest of the hotel. Another huge oval mirror with a fancy frame, sitting above an old Victorian couch…ivory pedestal sink, and a stall with painted swinging doors…gold trimmed everything. There was a window with tiled glass (almost like clear stained-glass, but opaque, like ice).

I thought it was odd that it looked like twilight outside. Because…we got there at twilight, and it had been about 2 hours since then.

I looked AT the window… It wasn’t tinted glass, so the blue-ish tint wasn’t from that. I nearly pressed my face against the window trying to make out the shape of anything outside…sky vs. ground, outline of cars… maybe a streetlight?…I couldn’t tell.

I came out, went back toward the lobby and noticed that it was pitch black outside.

…OK. Strange.

As I rejoined the dinner party, I told of the scary hallway and bathroom… I’m sure it didn’t sound as impressive as it was in my mind. So before we left, as my friend and her family stood in the lobby discussing plans, I said “Sara, you have to come see this creepy hallway.” I took off on my own, expecting her to follow shortly. I walked in view of them, down the first short hall of rooms…and it lead me straight to the restroom.

It curved around and led me straight to the restroom.

(Where was the long hallway with the mirror?? Surely I missed something.)

I yelled to Sara that I has missed a turn. Slowly I searched again.

No corridor. No crossing hallway without lights… no deserted kitchen.

Six times I went up and down that hall, and six times it curved around to the restroom. The only door that wasn’t a locked, numbered tenant’s room was a broom closet.

I searched for stairs, or an elevator. Perhaps it was on a different floor. …Nope, it was a one-level building.

I called the Greystone a few days after, and I asked the receptionist some made-up question wanting to know “the history behind the huge oval mirror at the end of the long corridor of hotel rooms in the back.” She said, “Ma’am, there are only 8 hotel rooms in the whole place now – the ones in front – and we rent them out as apartments.”

“No, but…the long corridor…with the little hallway in the middle and the kitchen – there were like hanging pots and pans?”

“Umm…we have a little kitchen with a sink, a refrigerator, and a microwave in back of the fellowship hall?…”

“Uh… …Ok…hmm. One more …weird… question and I’ll let you go. Is there a parking lot outside the girls’ bathroom with a bright blue streetlight? I mean, does it always look bright outside because of something like that?”

“Uh…(laugh) No ma’am, there’s no parking lot or light or anything on that side of the building. It always looks dark outside at night when I’ve been in there!”

To this day, I have never been thought of as insane or in need of medication… I had no alcoholic drink – and I wasn’t high – at the rehearsal dinner. I was slipped no drugs… and my friend will tell you I certainly didn’t fall asleep…it wasn’t a dream. I don’t seek out things that are paranormal, I’ve never seen a ghost, or a UFO, or a bright light that was otherworldly.

I’ve heard that some people believe in “thin places of the universe” where time and space, present and past, can intersect for a moment. I don’t know what I believe about that.

But I walked down a hallway that doesn’t exist.